Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

Ok, we didn't roast chestnuts, but we did have some fish chowder that Sean made, cheap wine, and some hot chocolate while we decorated our apartment for Christmas. We watched The Polar Express while we ate dinner. (Which was one of my very favorite books growing up.) I'm so glad we happened upon it last night... it really got us in the Christmas mood! After dinner, I made hot chocolate while Sean put on the lights, and we popped in Love Actually and started putting ornaments on the tree!

Love Actually + $6 Walgreens wine = perfect xmas atmosphere
Seany putting up the lights
Mmmmm, hot chocolate with real whipped cream

The final flourish!
I even had some presents wrapped to put under the tree!
Awkward Family Photos? ;)
Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! What are some of your favorite tree decorating traditions?

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Adventures of Seany and Leeny

Sorry about the radio silence happening on the blog. Sean and I have been doing lots of traveling over the last few weekends and we are finally feeling like we can catch our breaths! I thought I'd just post a little roundup of what's been keeping us so busy!

For the second weekend in November, we headed up to Cleveland to celebrate Emily (Sean's cousin) and Scott's wedding on Veteran's Day:
At their lovely wedding, Emily and Scott honored
all the Veterans who were close to them
The weekend was a blur of setting up for the wedding and all the family events that come along with wedding celebrations. We had a great time seeing the Cleveland crowd (it had been a while) and some members of the family that I had never met yet!

The following weekend, Sean and I packed up again and headed for Charlotte on Sean's birthday (Nov. 18). His little sister Allie was getting Confirmed the next morning and Sean was her sponsor.

Allie and Sean with the retired Bishop of Charlotte
Aww how cute
We spent the whole following week in Charlotte with Sean's family to celebrate Thanksgiving. The weather was just gorgeous... in the 60s and sunny all week. We even made the last-minute decision to enjoy our Thanksgiving feast out on the deck! Yes, be jealous...

Mmmm... Thanksgiving feast in the beautiful weather!
For Black Friday, there was no mall madness for us. We stayed in and relaxed all day, and it just happened to be my birthday! :) For French class, Allie had a project where she had to plan, prepare and serve a French dinner. She had every detail planned out, from canapes to a delicious meal with the table set meticulously and French music to set the mood.

Tres bon!
And... we had Chocolate Mousse... which is an awesome birthday dessert! It was a lovely evening and a great way to end our stay in Charlotte. Thanks Allie! (And the Campbells for having us stay all week!)
They were trick candles too...
And Sean "dressed up" for dinner :)
Finally, this past weekend Sean and I took a quick trip to Owensboro on Friday night to see Ashtin and James. We ate some Cheddars, saw the sights of Owensboro (including a bronze buffalo statue!) and then enjoyed some delicious beer at Gambrinus. I ordered a beer by Chimay that sounded delicious and it was, but just as I was telling the order to the waitress, I saw out of the corner of my eye that the price was $12.50! But it was too late, the damage was done, so I just sat back ready to enjoy it. Now, I don't know if it was really worth $12.50, but it was excellent, and I decided that if I were a beer that's what I'd be. :)

We came back to Louisville on Saturday to celebrate our friend Adam's birthday at Clifton's and then headed to Dark Star for some drinks. On Sunday, Sean and I found our Christmas tree and brought up our decorations from storage. Our house is primed and ready and just waiting to be Christmas-fied. So that's the plan for this week! And that's what we've been up to lately... we'll try and be a little bit more consistent on here in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Wall is Finished! (for now)

    A while back, I hinted at a project that I was working on in our living room: we had a huge empty wall in our living room/dining room that needed some love. So, after living in this apartment for over a year and growing weary of staring at the giant empty canvas of wall, I decided to hang a collection of our photographs and art on it!
Our Ikea Bounty
    When we went to Ikea, we picked up a few frames and a picture ledge to use on the wall. We weren't sure exactly what we were going to do yet, so we got a small assortment of things: two Verserum frames ($1.99), three Ribba shadow-box frames ($9.99 each), and a Ribba picture ledge ($9.99). These were supplemented with several frames and a mirror that we already had. We used the shadow-boxes to display some artsy CD covers and the frames to showcase some photographs of our travels and our wedding.
    I began the task of hanging everything by laying it all out on the floor of the living room in order to gauge how it would all look. After hours of deliberation, I decided to line everything up on the wall along an invisible bottom line in order to give the decorating a nice clean look. After measuring the space I had to work with on the wall and the sizes of the frames, I had a rough plan for how I would hang everything.

I taped the bottom edge to make sure everything lined up.
    Next, I put masking tape along the wall where the bottom line would be and marked where the edges of each frame would be. Then I hung the frames, starting along the tape line and working my way up the wall. In this way, the pictures remain evenly spaced and have a nice clean bottom edge to them.
    The actual hanging only took about forty minutes, which I thought was not bad. After everything had been hung and leveled, I carefully removed the tape. I still have a few more things I would like to hang: two small picture frames above the octagonal mirror, another frame above the picture ledge, and an artsy concert poster above the shadow box on the right side. All in all though, I am quite satisfied!
I worked left to right, as there is a built in shelf on the right.
The finished product! (for now)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Update: 12 by 2012!

Last weekend, Sean and I finally found some time to work on things around the house. And that means I get to cross off two items on my list! Saturday, I took a couple of hours to re-organize my closet and I'm so happy with how it turned out. And it wasn't really as bad as I thought. I had just let some things pile up, but now everything has a place. I even made some room for a few extra things laying around our bedroom. And the floor is completely clear now... I told Sean it feels like a mini-dressing room! Here are some pictures of the transformation:


AHH! Look at all that stuff on the floor!

That luggage was not in a good spot


That's an organizer from Ikea; my overnight bag is behind
it because I'll be using it so much in the coming weeks!

Look! You can see the floor now!

I hid that luggage back in the corner

Up there are travel bags, a bag of bags (purses/clutches)
and a box of winter scarves, hats and gloves

I even re-organized my clothes!

And while all that was happening, here's what Seany was doing upstairs:

Voila! Isn't it pretty?
It's not quite finished yet, but it's looking good! We have about three more frames to add. So I'm crossing those two items off my 12 by 2012 list! As for some of the other items, we've got some ideas going for our Christmas card, I've started organizing some of our wedding photos for the albums, and I'm hoping to keep up with my blogging in the coming weeks. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Love Scarves!

It's starting to get chilly around here, and, for me, that means it's time to break out my scarf collection! I love wearing scarves, and they are probably my favorite accessory. Adding a scarf makes it easy to stretch your wardrobe and add an extra element to any outfit. Over the weekend, I was showing my family a few ways that I tie my scarves and they showed me some of their ideas too! So I decided to make this video to show a couple of different ways to tie a scarf:

So there you have it! What are some of the ways you tie your scarf? I always love learning new ways!

p.s. Surprise! I got a haircut this weekend too!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Fall!

Sean and I had another great fall weekend. We had a cozy night in with friends on Friday night (that also involved a bacon lattice). Saturday, Sean reorganized "his kitchen." We moved some things around for a teensy bit more counter space, and moved some things to more practical spaces. Then on Saturday night, we had another fun night out for a birthday celebration where we took over the "house bar" at O'Shea's on Bardstown Road.

Fall foliage by Sean (from the passenger seat in the car)

And finally, on Sunday we had Huber's Farm Part Two: Campbell Sibs Edition. (There are photos of the first trip Sean and I took there last weekend here.) We took a wagon ride to pick some apples, then hit up the store for some pumpkins, and other fall treats to take home with us.

Look at all those fall treats!

Wagon ride to the apple orchard!
We rounded out the day by eating some delicious pizza at Boombozz. Andy, Heather, and Maggie had never been there! And then we came back to our apartment for some doughnuts, apple cider and The Walking Dead.

This week, on the agenda is figuring out our Halloween costumes for the weekend. I also hope to tackle some of the things on my 12 before 2012 list. What's everyone else doing to celebrate fall this year? What's everyone dressing up as for Halloween this year?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Winter Is Coming: A Two-for-One Instructional Blog Post for the Autumn!

To begin with, I apologize for not posting in a while, I have been extremely busy. 
I hope to make it up to you internet readers with this autumn double-post of DIY goodness. 

    First Up: Create Your Own Compost System!


    This fits into our five-senses theme, because it will help us to grow food and flowers throughout the growing season. This simple method is good for any size dwelling, from apartment to mansion, and the finished product (rich nutritious soil) can be used to grow either delicious or beautiful plants (or plants that are both delicious and beautiful).
    You will need a 5-10 gallon plastic bucket. I found mine at a nearby home-improvement store for under $4.00 (including the lid, which is needed). Using either a drill with a medium sized bit or a hammer with a medium sized nail, make numerous holes in the bottom of the bucket. You will want them to be evenly-spaced so as to keep the moisture within the bucket at a uniform level. The bucket should be placed onto something that will let air circulate underneath it. I chose two lovely bricks, but spare pieces of lumber or stone work just as well. As the plant materials within the bucket decompose, there could be seepage of slimy mineral mud. So, I put an old dish drain mat underneath the bricks so as to prevent our deck from soaking up the goo (also, the 'goo' is actually good stuff for plants and should be saved if is drips out and put back into the bucket).


The final product!

    Any plant material from healthy plants, vegetable and fruit scraps, plain paper products (paper-towel, black-and-white newspaper, etc), coffee grounds, egg-shells, or yard waste can be put into the compost bucket. Each time you add green things (wet organic matter) be sure to add brown things (dry organic matter: dead leaves, grass clippings, or paper). Also, make sure to add a sprinkle of water to the mixture each time you add ingredients in order to keep the process going. The matter will not break down if it is dry! You should probably stay away from adding any bones, fatty wastes, meats, or dairy products because they take longer to decompose and also attract racoons, rats, flies, and other creepy-crawlies. Also, avoid using anything that has been treated with chemicals or contains chemicals, like glossy paper, because you will be eating it eventually (in a round-about way). Otherwise, your compost should be ready to spread in a one-inch layer over your topsoil in the garden in three to five months, which would bring you to the spring planting season if you start now like I did!

The first recycled ingredient: coffee grounds including the filter!

Next Up: Carrot-Top Pesto!

    As a first year gardener, I don't have anything planned to grow during the winter months. This means that my garden is winding down for the season, so it's time to make what I have left stretch through the cold winter months. The basil plants were starting to look pretty sad, so I decided to put them mostly out of their misery. I picked off almost all of the leaves that were left  to make pesto! The problem is, as a first year gardener I didn't plant enough basil plants, so every time I go to make pesto with all the available leaves, I don't have enough to make a large batch. To overcome this problem, I decided to add carrot greens in with the basil this time in order to stretch it. I chose carrot greens for two reasons. First, I am becoming a big fan of the bitter-carrot taste of the greens. Second, I still have a bunch left over from last weeks carrot soup! 

    To begin with, I washed and tore up the basil and greens and ended up with about two cups packed. I put that into the food processor along with four medium garlic cloves, a half-cup of freshly blanched almonds (these are a convenient substitute for pine nuts), a quarter-cup of olive oil, and a cup of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. I then processed the ingredients, making sure to get rid of any garlic or almond chunks. I promptly added a few dollops to the pasta and kale that I was cooking up. 
     BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE! The whole point of this post was how to prepare for winter! In order to have home-made pesto throughout the winter months, I needed to freeze the rest of the batch I made. So as to make it easier to thaw out and separate portions out for a few different meals, I divided the remaining pesto up into a clean empty ice-cube tray. I then covered the remaining space in each spot in the tray with a little water. This will help when removing the cubes.  After the cubes freeze, I will remove them from the tray and put them into a freezer bag. Now, every time I want to add some delicious pesto to a meal, all I have to do is grab a few pesto-cubes and add them to the dish while it is cooking! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's about time for another fashion rant!

Now guys, I don't want to be too negative on here, but it's getting to be that time of year when I start seeing one of my BIGGEST pet peeves: Ugg boots and sweatpants! I saw the first pairing of the fall yesterday while we were out shopping. I knew this season would be quickly upon us when a couple of weeks ago, I had my first Ugg boots sighting; and they were red!

Now I want to be clear on this, I don't hate Ugg boots themselves (Hate is too strong of a word). I've just never seen a pair that's really excited me. I've never purchased a pair because they just aren't really my style, but if you love them that's fine (I will still be your friend, I guess ;). I know that people love them because they are comfortable and easy to throw on with any outfit.

What really just irks me is putting them on over your sweatpants! I mean are you trying to dress up your sweatpants or something? Because you're not... you're still wearing sweatpants! If you're going to put on a pair of boots at the very least you can put on a pair of jeans... you can find comfortable jeans people... c'mon, we even have jeggings now! (But please, no pajama jeans!) And if you want to wear sweatpants, go ahead, throw them on, but wear your gym shoes with them so at least it looks like you are heading to the gym. :)

Please, I'm begging all of you: the college girls running to class, the 20-somethings meeting your girlfriends for coffee, the "cool" moms shopping at the mall; STOP wearing Ugg boots and sweatpants together. We need to be a better example for the girls and 'tweens who are still trying to figure out their personal style... let's not confuse them anymore with this unacceptable combo!

***I was inspired do this post not only because of the aforementioned Ugg sightings, but also this morning I woke up to find this hilarious post by Garance, and I had to share this video as well. Enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

twelve by 2012

So this morning when I checked out oh, hello friend, I found this wonderful project! Everyone always gets so busy these last few months of the year, and it's easy to get overwhelmed. It's already the middle of October and once the holiday season starts it's go-go-go. So along with a few other bloggers, I've decided to take part in the Twelve by 2012 project. Basically, it's just setting 12 goals for yourself to achieve by December 31, 2011. It's going to be tough, but now that I'm putting it out there for the world to see, I figure I'll have to be accountable and get them all done! (And if I don't finish ALL of them, I'll have a great place to start when coming up with New Year's Resolutions!)

1) Finish our photo wall in the living room: Sean and I have a large wall in our living room where we have a big frame with 2 wedding photos in it. Well, that frame looks awfully lonely up there, and we decided it needs some friends. At our recent visit to IKEA, we picked up a few things to add to the wall. Here is the before pic:

table full of frames; tape on the wall
This one is number 1 on the list for obvious reasons. Isn't that tape on the wall classy? And our dining table is covered in frames and therefore, out of commission.

2) Purchase a wedding album and print/assemble: We have been married for almost a year and a half and still don't have a wedding album! It hasn't happened yet because we each had different ideas about what we wanted, but I think we've reached an agreement now and can begin to move forward with it.

3) Make albums for our parents: We also need to make wedding albums for our parents... we apologize for neglecting this McPhillips and Campbell parents!

4) Blog more:  I would like us to start posting at least 3 times per week, whether it's just me or a combination of the two of us.

5) Clean and organize my closet: Since we've been living in our apartment (just over a year), I've let my closet get a little bit out of control. So I need to take a day and make a space for everything and keep it that way!

6) Take a camping trip: Sean has been wanting to go on a camping trip for a while now, and I would like to do that too! We need to take advantage of this beautiful fall weather!

7) Visit West Virginia: My college roommate Katy lives in Huntington and a visit with her is long overdue.

8) Start planning/saving for a vacation: I would like for Sean and I to travel somewhere fun in 2012!

9) Figure out a Christmas craft: My mom's side of the family always exchanges what they call "sussies" at Christmas. There are 8 of them, so it's just something small that they can afford to give to everyone. I would like to find something that Sean and I can make to give to our close friends and family this year.

10) Create holiday traditions: I would really love for Sean and I to start creating some of our own traditions for our "baby family." We are very busy during the holiday season with both of our extended families, and those traditions are important. But I think we need to take some time and create some of our own traditions and rituals to pass along.

11) Create our own Christmas cards:  Sean mentioned something about this the other day, and I think it's a great goal for us to have. We are both creative people and I think it would be fun to customize our cards that we send out this year.

12) Find a meaningful job and/or career path: I'm still in the midst of my job search, but I hope to find something soon that will get me back on track to my ultimate goal of finding a career that I'm passionate about.

So there it is... it's a pretty extensive list, but if I can accomplish or at least get on the path to accomplishing these things, I will be relieved and content. Now the blogosphere knows what my goals are for these last couple of months in 2011. Thanks for being my motivation guys!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Being domestic

So I know that I said Sean would be doing most of the cooking and I would stick to just eating, but I  baked a cake last week! I'm not a great cook, but I have always enjoyed baking. I pinned this Southern Style Strawberry Cake a couple of weeks ago because it looked sooo good. And I think it's the first thing that I've actually made on this board I created on Pinterest

The recipe for this cake (from Joy the Baker) is fairly simple. It calls for boxed white cake mix and strawberry jello mix. The recipe calls for self-rising flour (which I didn't have) but I just used all-purpose flour and added a generous pinch of baking powder and... there were NO disasters!

I also cut the amount of sugar used in half (I used only 2 teaspoons). I figured with the cake mix and jello it wouldn't hurt, and in the end it was fine. Although, I think I made up for it with the amount of powdered sugar I used in the icing... oh well!

cake batter
The recipe makes enough batter for 3 8-inch cake pans. We only have 2, so I had to make the first two layers and then re-use a pan to make the third. This was my first time ever making a 3-layer cake and I'm proud of how it turned out!

fresh from the oven
The cream cheese icing was a little tricky. I'm still learning to get the right consistency for homemade icing. I thought it was going to be too runny, so I added probably more powdered sugar than I needed. But I put it in the refrigerator before putting the cake together, and it turned out ok... it was a little sweet for me (but I'm not big on icing anyway... a little goes a long way).

check out my icing skills ;)
We didn't have any food coloring to add to the coconut on the top, but I still think it looks pretty!

the finished product!
In the end, I think everyone who had a piece enjoyed it, and it was a great recipe! Here's the link again if any of you feel like giving it a shot... I highly recommend it!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kitten: 'Cute Pet' or 'Your New Favorite Band'?

Answer: Both!

The very same day that we traveled to the interior decorating mecca, IKEA, we also visited a classy establishment, the Mad Hatter, in Covington, KY to enjoy some good old-fashioned rocking and rolling. The main event, which was the point of our attendance, was the dance-rock outfit, Electric Six. Always a good show, they did not disappoint and left us sweaty with ears ringing by the end of the evening.

However amazing they were, the true surprise of the evening, in my book, was the night's second opening act: Kitten. The Los Angeles quintet literally brought us from sitting on a couple of bar stools at the back of the room to dancing our hearts out at the edge of the stage. Prowling around atop the guitar cabinets, writhing on the floor tangled in the mic cables, and keeping time on her chest with a tambourine: the true magic of the evening was provided by the sixteen-year's-young front-woman, Chloe Chaidez. She sang with the expression and control of someone twice her age, using every aspect of her voice from a raw breathiness to a clear soprano and everything in between. I consider myself a music person, having a degree in music and also having attended innumerable concerts, but this was one of the few times in my life that I was completely floored (in a good way) by an opening act. Every member of the band was spot on. Drummer Lukas Frank kept perfect time throughout the performance, truly driving the band's whole set along with surprising precision and detail. In addition, the sonic heart of the group, Andy Miller, provided flowing chords and delicate picking on guitar while Chris Vogel pulled the music along with intricate bass lines. The finishing touches were provided by Josh Holiday, who added subtle keyboard harmonies and chords that really filled out the band's sound, making Kitten truly take over the room. I stand by what I said to those around me during the show: keep your eye on Kitten, they are the next big thing and will be, without a doubt, playing next year's summer festival circuit.

Kitten at The Mad Hatter in Covington, KY 9/18/11